ICC ... the real villains
The weekend newspapers were almost universally critical of the way the whole episode was dealt with, and while there was not much sympathy for Darrell Hair’s on-field actions, there was concern about the way the ICC has treated him.
Leading the assault was Michael Atherton in The Sunday Telegraph. he wrote that the affair:
Showed the ICC at their worst: prevaricating, in that a judgment which should have been handed out on the fourth evening of the game was allowed to fester for a month; callous, when it revealed confidential e-mails from an employee; and ultimately fudging a verdict so as not to upset the key players in this very political game – the Asian bloc.
When the big issue arose, the ICC official froze. Woe-betide anyone who walks out to bat with a logo half an inch too big, mind you. Moreover, shortly after the ICC announced that Hair had been withdrawn from the Champions Trophy because of security concerns, India, the host country, flatly contradicted the game's chiefs. Who is being open and honest?
Stephen Brenkley in The Independent on Sunday was in an equally unforgiving mood:
The ICC are a governing body, but only when their members can be bothered to let them be so,” he wrote, adding that the blame lay with the members. “The ICC look as toothless today as they can have ever done. That will remain so until their members allow them actually to govern.
In the News of the World, Richie Benaud described the hearing as "crass and unbecoming". He added:
There are two men with stilettos between their shoulder blades - the Pakistan manager Zaheer Abbas, who has been sacked - and Hair, the ICC umpire. But at no point in any of this has Hair acted alone.
Reacting to Malcolm Speed’s comment that “we all move on and put this issue behind us”, John Stern in The Sunday Times said that:
There seems little chance of that when so many questions remain unanswered and so much resentment remains.
Referring to Darrell Hair, he went on:
He claims that he is happy with the support he has received from his employer, the ICC, although it is hard to imagine he really believes that. The ICC hung him out to dry by publishing the e-mails in which he demanded $500,000 to resign and also by standing him down from this month’s Champions Trophy in India, citing security concerns — a claim that has been denied by the Indian cricket board.
In The Australian, Malcolm Conn cut to the quick:
What a joke: the ICC has dedicated next month's Champions Trophy to the spirit of cricket … whether it's from players or the game's governing body, the rhetoric does not match the reality that the game is still a shambles and has little credibility as a major international sport.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa